Monday, 29 December 2014

This year in review

As always, I've managed to fill this year with lots of exploring and adventures. While my life in London never feels as exciting as it did in Seoul and Suzhou, I do make sure to see and do as much as I can! This year I've been working through my 30 before 30 list, and although much of my time has been spent researching and writing assignments, attending lectures and reading academic articles for my MA, I've still managed to squeeze in some interesting adventures! My year in review, doesn't look to bad, despite it seeming like I haven't done too much.

This year, aside from the wonderful experiences below, has also seen a change in job; I'm back teaching in an International school in London. Although this change also necessitated a move from my apartment in central London and a much longer commute it was definitely worthwhile and I am so happy to embark on this new path in 2015 and am looking forward to making the few other changes (finding a new place to live and settling in to the job role more) in the coming year; my 30th. 


January:


Seeing in New Year 1920s style!



February:





Chinese new year and birthday celebrations




March:






Revisiting Barcelona and exploring Highgate Cemetery and walking up the ArcelorMittal Orbit structure in Stratford.










April:





Adventures in India and Nepal.







May:





Visits from International friends, to fancy restaurants and taking in the view from the Shard.





June:





Watching Murray at Wimbledon



July:





Getting fancy at Henley Regatta




August:





Mum's fake birthday and hanging out in Brockwell Park





September



Afternoon tea, Elgin Marbles and volunteering in Wales.





October:





Visiting Chelsea in the Netherlands again; Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague.






November:




 


Hello to Cambridge, hello to Liverpool!




December




A happy Henburg adventure

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Birthplace of Buddha

When I found the tour of India and Nepal, there were a few places on the route that I particularly wanted to visit. The Taj Mahal (for its fame and reported beauty), Varanasi (after reading about Brenna's visit) and Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha). I'm not Buddhist, but I explored many askpects of Buddha's teachings while living in Korea. I have written about some of them here and here. Visiting the site of his birth, and hearing of the miraculous way he (allegedly) came into the world was interesting. Essentially this is just a quiet place to visit, and pay respects. The stories are interesting, and the atmosphere is serene and quiet. Mostly as you walk around the old noise you hear is the faint flapping sound from the prayer flags. 

Dotted all around are sayings from the Buddha, and it's difficult not to take photos of all of them as they are so full of wisdom. I chose to take a tuk-tuk across the complex to the small museum. Whilst the museum itself is not particularly interesting or worthwhile. The experience of travelling alongside the canal, heading past other visitors paying respects and seeing more of the Buddha's sayings was definitely worth it for me.

















Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A Temple where Monkeys rule

During our tour in Nepal, we passed through Swayambunath Stupa temple, dubbed the 'Monkey temple'. Inhabited by hundreds of Monkeys, tourists and worshippers wander alongside mostly avoiding getting too close to the temperamental and unpredictable creatures. On the striking white stupa near the entrance, the eyes of Buddha are painted on all four sides of the structure. Looking out over the valley, the Buddha's all seeing eye. The nose is actually the Nepali for 1, symbolising unity and the one way to reach enlightenment, through the teachings of Buddha. In between the eyebrows is the 'third eye', the all-seeing wisdom of Buddha.

As we make our way around the temple, up a long staircase to the top, which looks out over Kathmandu Valley, there are less monkeys to avoid and a slightly greater feeling of calm. Around the top section, alongside shrines and small temples are stalls selling Buddhist art, jewellery, prayer flags, idols and trinkets for visitors to take home with them. I walk clockwise around the main stupa, surrounded with prayer wheels. Turning them as much to use them as intended as to simply watch them spin. 

Back down at the entrance, I have a go at throwing a coin into the 'lucky' fountain. As expected I miss the target, and my copper coin sinks to the bottom of the green lagoon, to take its place with the hundreds of other unlucky ones. 

Over to one side of the temple complex is the Monkey swimming pool. Where they frolic, diving in and swimming around. This is really fun to watch and my mum and I stand here watching until everyone is ready to head back onto the bus and continue onwards to Kathmandu.